A/N: Warning, this is very AU. Please keep an open mind and give it a chance, I hope you like it!
Letters To You: Part I
The year is 1944 and the Second World War is raging on strong. Stefan Salvatore deals with the consequences of his service to his country, and is caught with the presence of a stranger in his life. A story of romance and tragedy, a forever telling of the unexpected.
Stefan Salvatore never dreamed of falling in love.
His future had always been one filled with purpose. Blessed by a life of privilege and money, gifted with effortless success, he wanted for nothing. He was educated, eloquently spoken, deemed dashingly handsome with his brooding good looks. But nonetheless, he'd grown up with dysfunctional parents and a resentful older brother. It was safe to say that he never truly believed in unconditional affection. He'd never felt it, so how could he believe in something he'd never experienced?
For every girl he'd dated, there was always be another reason to break it off. Every woman young woman he'd courted had been too attached, too invested, too serious. There were no lasting connections, no significant bonds. Despite having a girlfriend on his arm at all times, he couldn't say he'd ever been in love.
So it was pure insanity, when he realized he was falling for a girl he'd never even met.
It all started a year after he'd been stationed in Italy. He'd been so naïve when he'd first arrived, thinking that battle was all glory, all about killing Nazis and communists. He never thought of the losses he would find on his own sides. He watched, day after day, battle after battle, his comrades fall. The red blooded boy with a longing for escape and adventure, had turned into a jaded, desensitized man.
He was too young to be a soldier, they all were.
He didn't try to make any friends, the risk of death was too high. He didn't want to let anyone down, he didn't want to grow close with another soul. He was too fragile, not that anyone would know it from his stoic face and recluse behavior.
Yet somehow, a complete stranger, a boy from a life entirely polar from his own, managed to break down his barrier.
Matt Donavon was thought to be one of the lucky ones. He always managed to get out of every battle without a single scratch, a skilled and loyal soldier. Tall and athletic, with blonde hair and blue eyes, he epitomized the All American Boy. Stefan recalled how girls back in the states swooned over guys that looked like that.
To two of them were a strange pair, they were complete polarities. Matt came from an impoverished home, too poor to pay his way out of the draft; Stefan was the son of a wealthy businessman who'd voluntarily enlisted to escape the stifling nature of the world he grew up in. Matt believed he'd already met the love of his life, while Stefan would try to remember what he felt when he looked at his girl back home.
They drank, they smoked, they talked; they were fast friends. They had each other's backs, throughout everything, both of them could count on the other to look after them.
Matt's term of duty was to end first, Stefan's own return scheduled a month later. It was less than twenty hours before Matt was to board a plane back to the Big Apple, when disaster seemed to find him. Their camp had been bombarded by enemy planes, the bombs dropped like a hundred pins all at once. The rained down at every turn, the smoke exploded around them. Most of them ran, running for protection. Majority of them managed to emerge with minimal injuries, Stefan had. He looked down at his gas mask, thinking how lucky he had been to have his.
He froze though, as he realized the gas mask didn't belong to him. It was Matt's.
Donavon had caught Stefan on his way out to patrol. He'd slapped his back with a beaming smile, bragging about getting to go home. Stefan had complained he'd forgotten his supplies back at the bunks, he was about to run over to get it when Matt stopped him. Matt handed him his own mask, saying he wouldn't need it, on account he'd was leaving the next morning.
He'd joked with a broad grin on his face, and ordered Stefan to "Try and not die" while he was gone.
It wasn't until it was too late, that Stefan remembered he never said 'You too'.
The attack was devastating, and everything was numb. Stefan felt nothing, thought nothing when two superior officers came out and escorted him to the medical tents. The tarp covered structure was stuffy, the air hot, the scent of metal too strong to imagine away. The bloodied cots sat under the bodies, some of them writhing in pain, others already long dead.
Stefan mentally cursed at the Italians. He knew that American Troops were waging biological warfare against their own enemies, but seeing the effects of Mustard Gas was horrifying enough for blind bias.
The officers led the younger man to a cot in the corner of the tent. The patient was nearly unidentifiable. Had they not handed Stefan the dog tags, he might not have ever recognized The All American Boy lying before him, countless burns covering his face.
Matt Donavon was a good soldier, they would later say. Matt Donavon was loyal, a good friend, selfless, brave, and courageous. He was responsible. People would whisper how it must've been bad luck that he'd wandered out without his supplies. No one knew whose fault all of it really was.
Stefan had fired fatal shots and killed countless others over enemy lines. But he never felt more a murderer than he did standing over the body of his once good friend. His legs stood stiffly as his vision blurred through the darkness of the tent, his organs twisted until he swore he couldn't breathe. Had Matt worn his mask, perhaps the damage would not have been so severe, maybe his lungs would not have been so irreversibly destroyed. Maybe then he would have a chance at living, maybe then he wouldn't be dead.
He waited for the officers to take their leave before he cried.
He sobbed silently for minutes, he couldn't have controlled it. It was a strange sensation, he couldn't remember crying since he'd been an infant. The tears escaped freely, his arms hung limp at his side.
But after those few minutes, stoic Stefan made his reappearance. He hastily wiped his tears and dispersed any semblance of regret, of weakness. He saluted the officers who returned to his side. One clamped down on his shoulder, casually placing something in his hand, encouraging him to keep his head up.
The other stepped aside and handed him a small wooden chest.
Stefan recognized the box immediately, he'd seen Matt sitting up on his bed with it every night. Matt could never stop talking about her, this girl he'd grown up with. With this lovesick smile plastered on his face, he would drone on and on about how he would get off that plane, pick her up in his arms, get down on one knee and propose. He said he was going to marry her. He swore she was an angel who fell from heaven.
Now Matt was from New York, and the Yankee stood out like a sore thumb in a regiment teeming with southern bred boys. Needless to say not everyone was willing to simply take his word on this seemingly flawless woman. They didn't believe him, but he was completely okay with that. He said he didn't need the competition anyway.
Matt would write to her religiously, scribbling down drafts before writing the actual letter, sealing it up, and mailing it the next morning. Whenever the post came, Donavon had been the first one to greet the transport. He'd told Stefan how she was all he had left. He never knew his father, his mother had run off with another man, and his younger sister had died of a chronic childhood infliction. He would stay up past dark, telling Stefan how this amazing girl had been the one to breathe life back into him. She sounded like a miracle, but she didn't sound real.
Stefan had a girlfriend too, this gorgeous brunette with a sweet disposition. She was elegant and graceful, she was what everyone thought Stefan wanted. Even after only months of courting, she promised to wait for him until he returned from Europe. She was the apple of every man's eye, even his brother. She should have been perfect.
He'd never seen the inside of the box, only he knew it contained Matt's most precious belongings. The letters she wrote to him.
The army wasn't shipping bodies to the states anymore, it was too chaotic. Whatever respect and honor Matt deserved was paid during the intimate military burial that took place the next day. Soon there was nothing left of him but a memory.
It wasn't until after he'd returned to base that he opened the box. He'd gotten a day of leave, he was half drunk when he opened the box. With cautious hands, he delicately unfolded each leaf of paper, read every word.
Matt loved this girl, she was everything he seemed to live for.
After going through their exchanges, it was clear that she loved him too.
Guilt overtook him, almost knocking the air out of his body. His mouth felt dry, he clenched his jaw to keep his trembling lip still. He didn't know what to do, how to react. It had been his own stupidity that had left Matt unprotected. It was his fault he was dead. He had no idea what he was doing.
He took out a pen.
He couldn't hold it in, he needed to tell someone what he had done. He wanted to tell the one person he knew would hate him, the one person who would never forgive him. He wanted to receive the retribution he deserved. He didn't want to be pitied as the soldier who had lost his good friend, he wanted to be persecuted as the man who'd caused his comrade's death.
So he wrote.
Under the dim lighting in the barracks, he gripped the pen tightly and let the words bleed out.
He started his letter, he started all of it, with the same line.
'Dear Miss Caroline Forbes,'
Little did he know, this was the beginning to so much more.
End Chapter 1
A/N: Thoughts, anyone? I'm growing more attached to this pairing. Please leave a review if you want me to continue.